As news of the American military’s first direct assault against the Syrian regime broke late Thursday, U.S. allies around the world expressed support for its response against Tuesday’s devastating chemical attack in Syria.
Under President Donald Trump’s direction, the U.S. Navy fired 59 cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Base in western Syria, in retaliation to the internationally condemned chemical weapons attack that killed more than 70 civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northwestern Syria.
“[Syrian President Bashar al] Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” Trump said Thursday evening, as the U.S. military strikes in Syria were underway. “It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The president called on “all civilized nations” to join the U.S. “in seeing to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons “cannot go unanswered” and that “the Syrian regime bears the full responsibility for” the U.S. strikes.
A spokesman for the United Kingdom’s government said it backed the U.S. action.
“The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. action which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks,” he said, according to a report from Reuters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have also indicated they they back the strikes.
“President Assad alone is responsible for this development,” Germany said on Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch Trump supporter, held up the military move as a warning to other regimes. Netanyahu said America’s retaliatory attacks in Syria “sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”
Israel “fully supports President Trump’s decision,” Netanyahu added, and it is hopeful “that his message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the American strikes a “swift and just response” to the Syrian regime’s chemical attack this week. “This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response,” Turnbull said, according to the Associated Press. “It sends a strong message to the Assad regime, and ... has been struck at the very airfield from which the chemical attack was delivered.”
Trump’s administration gave the Australian government advance notice of its plans to launch the strikes, local media reported.
Support also came from Syria’s neighbor to the north. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus praised the strike against the “barbarity” of the Assad regime in an interview on Turkish television, Reuters reported.
Before the missile attack was launched, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had reportedly said before the intervention that he would welcome U.S. military action in Syria. “If [U.S.] action will really be put forward, we are ready to do our part,” he told local media.
Saudi Arabia, a strong opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad, also praised Trump for responding to the use of chemical weapons against civilians, Reuters reports.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the U.S. Army fired 59 cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Base in western Syria. It was the U.S. Navy.